ALL IN THE DETAIL
How one couple updated a Fifties townhouse in west London
With an interior as flawless as that of Trisha and Michael Walters’ London home, selecting a favourite feature is a tall order. However, if pushed to choose, Trisha says her pick would be the staircase, which is engineered from walnut and glass. ‘It’s just so gorgeous, it’s a work of art in itself,’ she says.
The glass is meticulously cut to form perfect joins, while the rich wood handrail appears to float on top. Trisha sees the staircase as key to the design ethos behind her home – luxury materials, clean lines and exacting attention to detail. ‘It’s interesting what you learn about your tastes,’ she says. ‘I never knew I disliked metal fixings with such a passion. I certainly wasn’t popular with my builders, I can tell you.’
This staircase was a mere pipe dream when Trisha and Michael first bought their townhouse – an infill built in 1955 following wartime bomb damage. ‘There
wasn’t much about the house that appealed to us, apart from its location,’ says Trisha, ‘ but it was the last house on the street to be renovated, which piqued our interest. The building is east-west facing, so it had plenty of light, but it also had a giant staircase in the middle, with poky rooms leading off it. That had to go. The work was as close to a rebuild as you can get without tearing down external brickwork. Two months into the renovation, we walked into the house and we could look straight up at the sky.’
With planning permission already granted to convert a roof terrace into a fully fledged mansard extension, the Walters were able to gut the interior to create a bespoke layout. ‘Our friend and property manager, Piers Rance of Aedes Construction, came with us to view the original house and he was so excited by the project,’ says Trisha. ‘He drew up the floor plans and, once the staircase was repositioned to one side, the house almost designed itself.’ The first floor became an L-shaped sitting room, while the second floor was given over to the main bedroom and bathroom. With two extra guest bedrooms and a bathroom in the mansard roof, plus the unexpected discovery of a 450sq ft basement, the Walters have ended up with a light, spacious home.
Once renovated, the scale of the property meant that the decorating would require more time and experience than the couple could provide, so they looked to interior designers Wilding & Wolfe. The Fifties provenance of the house was key to Trisha’s vision and early on in the process, she showed the designers images of the era that she had gathered to clarify the look. One was of an Erik Buch bar stool, with distinctive dark hardwood legs and a leather seat with a gentle upward curve on the back edge. The rich dark wood tones and spare design of the stool, typical of Modernist interiors, are now apparent throughout, in the new staircase, in the rich dark wood floorboards that line the corridors, and in various decorative pieces. At Christmas, the wood is refreshed with bouquets and arrangements of fragrant greenery.
Of her finished home, Trisha says, ‘We managed to source original pieces from antiques dealers – even tracking down the exact bar stools from my picture. But I was clear that I didn’t want the decor to look like a period pastiche. Yes, the house has stand-out pieces, but they don’t overwhelm. Our home is classic, calm and comfortable, but most of all, it is always a wonderful place to spend the festive season.’
dining area The bespoke staircase beyond the table has the appearance of floating in mid air. Staircase, price on request, Aedes Construction
SITTING ROOM Having a blank canvas allowed Trisha to specify a chimney breast large enough to accommodate this painting of a Hanoi street scene. Platinum rug, £ 4,443, the rug Company. bespoke rectangular outline coffee table, richard taylor Designs